Sunday, February 19, 2017
The virtue of holiness is ascribed to God and used to describe men and women whose names are listed among saints and martyrs. But for ordinary believers it seems unattainable, at least in this life. Nonetheless, today’s Scriptures suggest that the people of God can be and should be holy.
In the First Reading from Leviticus, God instructs Moses to tell the covenant people to be holy. Their holiness originates in the holiness of God, but it finds expression in community, in love of neighbor.
Today’s psalm comes from the soul and blesses God. The act of blessing was understood to be a gesture of thanksgiving, so to bless God was to thank God— especially in this case, because God is kind and merciful. God puts aside our sins as far as “the east is from the west” and is as tender and compassionate toward us as a parent toward a child.
Paul frequently expounds on his theology of the body. We are familiar with his analogy between the body and the community, each with its various parts and gifts. Here Paul tells the Christians that they are the temple of God and that they are holy. This might have been shocking language for the early Christians, but Paul believes that they belong to Christ, the source of all holiness.
Today’s Gospel continues Jesus’ teaching on how to interpret the tradition concerning our relations with each other. How should we respond to injury within the community? The ancient rule of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” is no longer acceptable. Although intended to limit retribution, Jesus has a higher (and a seemingly perplexing) standard: “Offer no resistance.” And when one is asked to offer assistance to someone, give more than expected, not less. The goal of the disciple is to be “perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
At Home with the Word